Well, yesterday was quite the experience. After spending years where my parents struggled to acknowledge my family, we have moved in a slightly different (but typical) way past that. As a family we had decided to go to the Newport Aquarium, and then to IKEA, and then finally to Jungle Jim's. Yeah.....three big events in one day, sandwiched in between a two or more hour drive to Cincinnati and a two or more hour drive back from Cincinnati. I know what you're thinking....."Dude....are you INSANE?!" Today, I would have to say only slightly insane. We all are feeling today a little like one might feel the day after an all day visit to Kings Island or Cedar Point....dehydrated, tired, sore, and really wanting one more day for the weekend! However, the "show much go on," and I am spending my blog post as a bit of "family therapy" time! This post will read more like a journal entry, with really no great tidbits of wisdom or advice, but I feel I need to record it so some day I can look back and maybe even laugh a bit.
The idea was to leave between 7:30a and 8a to arrive at the aquarium when they opened at 10a. We overshot that goal by about 45 mins, which is pretty "on time" for waking, packing up, and feeding this family of five. Still, it could have been later so I was happy with what we did accomplish.
While traveling, I am also happy to report the rain held off and we were able to traverse over relatively dry pavement. We did our usual rest stop break, I pointed out my old working place ("see that tower over there?"), we talked about going to Kings Island this summer, and I called my mom about 45 mins out to find out where to meet her. When we parked (in an outside lot because I couldn't remember where the parking garage entrance was) we debated raincoats that would have to be carried all day. We decided to leave them in the car (which really was a bad decision) and headed in to Guest Services.
There was a line at least a mile long and we thought "HOLY SMOKES! We have to wait through that to get to the aquarium?!?!" Luckily, we asked what the line was for (after noticing about 100 guitars and people singing in line) and found out if was for try-outs for the X-Factor. Cool! No line! We went up the steps and found my mom. Ironically, we also ran into friends from home. We talked to them for a bit, got our picture taken in front of the riverfront, and headed down the escalator to the depths of the aquarium. Immediately, the baby decided it was WAAAAY too dark to walk on her own, so we shuffled backpacks around, got her settled in, and headed into the waters!
For the first ten minutes, every word out of the baby's mouth was 'fissss.' Oh boy, this was going to be a long trip! haha
She gave that up, as well as needing to be carried, and started wandering on her own, wanting to see the 'fisss' and the turtles, and the sharks. She tried to tickle a few of the fisss through the tank glass, but they apparently weren't ticklish. Mighty Mike (the 15-foot alligator) was impressive enough to get a "wow" out of her as were the scuba divers in the shark tank. All six of them waved at her, which probably made her day more than anything else we did!
After a costly snack, we headed to the penguins, which were apparently less interesting than climbing up and down the steps. We finished the tour and headed to the gift shop to find that perfect stuffed animal, necklace, or shot glass (j/k on the shot glass) for everyone to get to take home. About ten mins into the shopping we realize that apparently a monsoon has settled over northern KY. I run to mom's car, get out 4 umbrellas (and yes, I left her with three), go gather everyone up, and head to our van parked in the outside parking lot. I think I heard our raincoats laughing at us as we got in. I paid the parking (the equivalent of two vanilla lattes), showed the kids the dollar coins I got as change, and proceeded to drive through the river next to the River to get back on the highway. Funny enough, a mini-cooper plowed through a lake, covered us completely in water (you couldn't see out any window), and still kept going. I was impressed but immediately lost that feeling trying to get over a lane to merge onto the highway. We slowly progressed up I-75 to Union Centre to IKEA contemplating lunch and cinnamon rolls!
By the time we got there, the rain had let up mostly, so we got into the building without much mishap. We had a wonderful lunch (LOVE the chicken tenders) and then headed off to shop. About an hour into things, I went downstairs to get some well needed coffee (while Pops got an ice cream) and then we headed to the marketplace to get a few items that we actually needed (as opposed to the items we merely wanted from upstairs). Although we weren't able to find our solar lights, we did get a nice cart full of trophies. We all said good-bye to my dad, got directions from my mom, and headed off to the Jungle.
The first comments out of the boy's mouth were "When are we going to get to something fun, like a ride?" Now, I'm not really sure what part of "natural foods" and "grocery" and "Asian foods" led him to believe it was anything other than a grocery store, but apparently it came as quite a shock to him. I believe his words after that realization were "If I had known that, I would have complained more!" Oh my........can I say "fun times were had by all?!?"
My sister, who is a tour guide for Jungle Jim's, met us just past the cheese section (which means we had only been in the store for under ten mins) and began her fact and trivia ramblings about how long the cheese would be lined up end-to-end (I think she said half a mile) to the four animals that give milk (cow, buffalo, goat, and sheep). It was kind of cool having our own personal tour. It also helped so we were able to only have to hit the sections we needed to hit (organic produce, Asian, natural supplements, and the check-out lanes. I will say, Mr. Jungle Jim, if you are listening, our family feels it is terrible that you do not provide reusable bags for your shoppers to purchase. Available were plastic (YUCK YUCK YUCK) and a few paper bags (which were better than plastic) so we decided to just put everything in the cart and put the items in our bags in the can once we got out to it. (I suggest that if you have ever shopped at the Jungle, or would just like to voice your dislike of no reusable bags for the customers, go to their Contact Us page of their website, and voice your thoughts.
Ok....off my soapbox.
So, after a quick run through a local drive through (we were needing some kind of food before heading home) we were all settled in, the Curious George video was in, the radio was on a local station for those in front, the baby was snacking away on her nuggets, and we were headed out of the Cincinnati area. Oh....and only minimal rain. What we had more of than rain were idiot drivers who either couldn't see our van or chose not to see our van and thereby earned the wrath of Papi!!!
So..............................I guess I should explain why it was a weird day. I know it didn't seem like one. Actually, reading back over it, it seems like a really nice but busy day. And it was that, too. It was weird because spending that much time with my folks (well, technically my mom) was something I haven't done since I was living at home and in high school. I'm glad she (and my dad and my sister) are trying to be a part of our lives...but I guess I'm still a bit gun-shy and I always feel on guard around them. Perhaps as time goes on, we will all settle into a comfortable arrangement. Personally, I hope we never decide to take on that many events in one trip again! hehe I'm tuckered out! (There's still laundry, and dishes, and cleaning.....and ugh......)
Thanks for sticking it out! I hope you had a great weekend despite the weather, relatives, and chocolate overload! Here's to getting back into the routine tomorrow!